Coach Character- from blog site “Jean’s Boots Are Made for Talking”

Author: Kristy

While we’re on the subject of the county fair…

I think we need to discuss something.
Just you and I.
(In between your eighth load of laundry and calling the extension office to confirm:  does the show start at 2:00 or does showmanship start at 2:00? Anxious grandparents must know.)

Anyway, back to you and I.
And our chat.
Go refill your coffee.
I’ll wait.

I witnessed something this week.

Within an hour of arriving to the county fair I saw a ring-side adult completely humiliate a child showing livestock.

Their tactic:
Stand ringside, verbally (and loudly) critique the showmanship of the child and wrap up the disgusting display by visually displaying disappointment in the kid.

I wanted to throw up. But I had just eaten a $6.50 Kemo sub. Those deals can’t be wasted. Then I saw something I’d never seen before: a broken heart with a buzz cut, whip in his hand and tears on his cheeks. Unbearable.

Let’s chat.

Showing livestock is about building character.

It’s about learning responsibility and working hard towards a goal and also understanding what makes sheep bloat.
Which is, apparently, everything.
Showing livestock is not about the adults’ financial investment, the adults’ prideful reputation or the adults living vicariously through someone a quarter of their size. Showing livestock is not about last names.

Showing livestock is about building character.

This isn’t the National Western Stock Show, it’s the county fair.
And even if it was, scolding – rather than coaching –  your child in front of a national crowd isn’t going to help in any way. This is where your child will meet the friend that they’ll go on Spring Break 2023 with. You’ll approve the trip because they’re “in 4-H together”. This is local. This is your back forty.  These people – the ones gauging how you react to winning or rejection – are their village.
**By the way: One of the young men you’re daughter is showing against will probably take her to prom in seven years. Brace yourself.

Showing livestock is about building character.

Your kid isn’t going to make a living precisely parading livestock, keeping the flawless stock between himself and the judge.
Your kid may go on to make a living breeding and selling sought genetics, building relationships far and wide, developing a brand and cultivating a passion which generations to come will benefit from. But perfect showmanship tactics? They come and go. The county fair is the place to cultivate those interests and polish those talents. No one becomes famous here. Calm down.

Showing livestock is about building character.

It’s also about displaying character.
They’re watching.
And when you scold them in public? You’re breaking their confidence.
And when you throw a fit? You’re giving them permission to do the same.
And when you return to the stalls or the show box and bad mouth the judge? You’re teaching them how to discount anyone who ever offers them constructive criticism.
In a world where kids get trophies
for showing up to three practices,
constructive criticism is crucial!

Little Eyes Upon You

There are little eyes upon you
and they’re watching night and day.
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little girl who’s dreaming
of the day she’ll be like you.

You’re the little angel’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise.
In her little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.

She believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
She will say and do, in your way
when she’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little girl
who believes you’re always right;
and her eyes are always opened,
and she watches day and night.

You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little girl who’s waiting
to grow up to be like you.
Kimberly Sedlacek

Showing livestock is about building character.

Trust me. No one comes to the county fair and expects to lose. No one puts their family through the familiar hell that is the week before the county fair. You’ve worked hard to coordinate. The kids are tired. The stock is ready. You’re fixin’ to hide in a closet and shut off your phone. I get it. But everyone – everyone – comes to compete and do their best. Their very best. Your kid included.

Showing livestock is about building character.

At the end of the day – or the auction – showing livestock teaches kids how to win graciously and lose gracefully.
Appreciate the blue ribbons.
Accept the rejection letter.
Balance a check book.
Read a feed sack label.
Find confidence in a flood of embarrassment.
Fail the interview but dominate the closure handshake.
Sincerely thank the judge that buried the best steer that will ever come off of the farm.
Because – who knows – that very judge may hire her right out of grad school, a decade later.

I’ll let you get back to your coffee. And laundry.
(If you don’t want to have to iron your underwear, now might be a great time to get the clothes out of the dryer, by the way.)

Remember: This week is similar to vacation for your kids:
A week of sunshine, sno-cones,
their favorite stock,
long lost friends and
way-past-bedtime nights.
If you must coach from the sidelines,
coach character.

Oh, and I think the same can be said for sports.

Posted in In The Industry |

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